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What is equitable about equitable resilience? Dynamic risks and subjectivities in Nepal

Forsyth, Tim ORCID: 0000-0001-7227-9475, McDermott, Constance L. and Dhakal, Rabindra (2022) What is equitable about equitable resilience? Dynamic risks and subjectivities in Nepal. World Development, 159. ISSN 0305-750X

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2022.106020


Equitable resilience is an increasing focus of development policy, but there is still insufficient attention to how the framings of equity itself shape what, and who, is targeted through development efforts. Universalistic assumptions about climate risk or social marginalization can define equity in ways that hide dynamic and intersectional influences on what constitutes risk to whom under different circumstances. This paper investigates the implications of two different equity framings for resilience in Jumla District, western Nepal. Drawing on more than one hundred household surveys plus in-depth qualitative interviews in six villages, we find that state-led efforts to present post-civil war development as the “equal distribution” of roads and infrastructure, agricultural commercialization, and protection against systemic climate risk fail to reflect local experiences of risk, which are often expressed in terms of social exclusion rather than vulnerability to climate change. Yet, simultaneously, other efforts at building resilience that use caste and gender as indicators of social marginalization overlook how transitions in livelihoods and individual agency have changed vulnerability contexts for many people, or the increasing vulnerability to climate change of more landed farmers. The paper urges more critical attention to how normative framings of equity shape what, and for whom is considered equitable resilience, including assumptions about transformative change from analysts themselves. Representing risks and vulnerability in terms of socially marginalized groups alone might deny the dynamic, intersectional, and contextual interconnection of risks and social agency; and might impose unhelpful subjectivities of their own.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 Elsevier Ltd
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Date Deposited: 08 Aug 2022 16:09
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2023 18:33

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